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Bad Moms 2

Everything the original got right, this agonising sequel gets wrong.
By Sarah Ward
November 02, 2017
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By Sarah Ward
November 02, 2017
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When Bad Moms became one of the big hits of last year, it was the film's great cast and refreshing approach to female friendship that really struck a chord. Indeed, it was those two factors that made an otherwise routine comedy about mothers behaving badly both amusing and empowering. Alas, it seems no one explained that to writer-director duo Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Or, perhaps they simply don't care. With their inevitable sequel, the pair proves happy to take the easiest route — upping the raucousness, adding even more mums to the mix, and eschewing nuance, depth or any real comic commentary about the expectations placed upon women.

This approach — taking aspects of the original and just ramping them up — is not uncommon in sequels. Unfortunately, Bad Moms 2 picks the wrong elements to highlight, at the expense of the thoughtful core that made its predecessor such a surprise. Stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn are as qualified as ever, while franchise newcomers Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon all impress as well. The material, though? To borrow a scenario that occurs in the movie, it's like stealing a cheap department store Christmas tree rather than finding a real one.

Also called A Bad Moms Christmas in other parts of the world, the film's first attempt to heighten these overstressed mums' worries arrives via the festive season. If the holidays weren't anxiety-inducing enough, their own mothers decide to drop by out of the blue, each displaying familiar family traits. Prim and proper Ruth (Baranski) is even more of a perfectionist than Amy (Kunis); stalker-like Sandy (Hines) takes the idea adoring motherhood too far even by Kiki's (Bell) standards; and wild-at-heart Isis (Sarandon) has a looser grasp on responsible parenting even than the free-spirited Carla (Hahn).

The end result pits mothers against their mothers in the kind of multi-generational hijinks that's becoming a bit too common of late, with the conceptually similar Daddy's Home 2 hitting cinemas in just a few weeks. It also comes with a heap of problematic messages. Sure, Bad Moms 2 nods to the initial flick's championing of women being themselves and refusing to conform to society's demands. But that means next to nothing when the film's female characters are now depicted as little more than caricatures. That they only bond over parenting, fighting with their mums, or chasing men does not go down well. Nor does the suggestion that they are both the cause of their own mothers' craziness and are doomed to follow in their footsteps.

Perhaps the film's standout scene demonstrates the fortunes of Bad Moms 2 best, turning a male stripper's intimate waxing session into a romantic meet-cute. In a feature filled with cartoonish depictions of women with children (and women in general), of course the most relatable and resonant moment takes place between Hahn's lusty, lonely beautician and her attractive client. Lucas and Moore, who clearly aren't doing their own mums proud here, don't even think of extending the same blend of genuine humour and earnest emotions to the movie's ladies when they're together. Instead they saddle the gals with making penis gingerbread and twerking on Santa.

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